There has been a lot to cheer about in the education sector in Delta State since leveraging on the S. M. A. R. T. governance of Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, the Executive Governor of Delta State. On assumption of office on May 29, 2015, it was imperative to gauge the mood and expectations of Deltans. To reverse the trend, he embarked on a clear-cut policy that accorded the education sector a pride of place on the list of his development priorities.
Education is part of the “R” component of the S. M. A. R. T. Agenda, which is Relevant Health and Education policies- placing it among the overall strategy to put Delta State on the development drive, knowing full well that education is the bedrock of development in any society.
The sector was also incorporated in the twin road map of the S. M. A. R. T. governance, which are human capital and infrastructure development and part of a robust Job Creation strategy that had been evolved to enable the unemployed youths to benefit from different skill acquisition programmes that constitute one of the prerequisites for self -employment and financial independence. Five years on, history is made as the governor has set enviable standards of leadership and a model of good governance that has recorded unequalled achievements of highly practicable sustainable development across all the sub sectors of education in the state.
Primary and Secondary Education
A sound primary education is one of the pedestal on which the future of any child rests. So far, the Delta State Government has demonstrated the political will towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to invest in the future of children in the state. To date, the Governor Okowa administration has established additional 12 public primary and 34 secondary schools across the state, all in an effort to ensure that the challenge of the foundational years is faced squarely. Subsequently, it has improved access to education in rural and difficult terrains as well as decongested existing schools in urban centres.
Today, the citadel of educational institutions include 1,124 public nursery/primary schools, out of the 2,962 in the state and 465 public secondary schools of the total number of 1,406 across the state. Enrolment in public primary and secondary schools, as at the end of the 2017/18 academic session shows that there are 166, 081 males and 156, 790 females, totaling 322, 871 pupils in public primary schools, while there are 140, 461 males and 140, 823 females, totaling 281, 424 students in public secondary schools.
The Delta State Government paid the counterpart funds of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme, from 2015-2017, as follows: 876,756,756.76, 1,042,027,027.04 and 1,286,343,183.55, totaling N5,188,221,561.85 respectively, for the three years, which enabled it to receive N10,376,443,123.80 as matching grant for the three-year period.
To restore quality of teaching, the Governor Okowa administration established the Teachers Professional Development Centre (TPDC) for the upgrade, retooling and training of teachers at all levels of education in the state. Five years ago, it commenced training of 6, 504 personnel in the education sector, including the Federal Government N-Power and volunteer teachers at the community level under the auspices of the TPDC, while 100 French teachers were trained across the state in 2016.
To rescue the educational sector, the state government had confronted the twin challenge of vocational and technical education needed to power technological development. This was set in motion through the promulgation of a law to establish a Technical and Vocational Education Board in June, 2015 as well as the inception of a Ministry of Technical Education. Six existing technical colleges were revamped and eight existing vocational skills centres were upgraded and refurbished with fit for purpose workshops and equipped to suit the curriculum.
New facilities have made a major turning point in the technical colleges: Agbor-Masonry and machine works, Sapele- woodwork and automobile, Ofagbe-welding, fabrication and electrical, Ogor- welding and fabrication, Utagbe Ogbe- building and concrete works and Issele Uku- building services. Others are a digital platform that underscores the benefits of computer education in a global village, while 45 courses had been accredited in all the six technical colleges by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) as well as hundred per cent improvement in enrolment in the vocational and technical colleges.
Educational Infrastructure Upgrade
There has been a huge sectoral investment by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE), State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC). A total of 2,001 Classrooms were constructed- MOBSE- 1,047, SUBEB- 86, DESOPADEC- 92.
3,666 classrooms were renovated- MOBSE- 1,566, SUBEB- 1,987, DESOPADEC- 113. Of the 140, 478 students furniture provided, 95, 496 and 44, 982 were by MOBSE and SUBEB respectively. Teachers furniture- 15,086 by MOBSE and 7,354 by SUBEB, totaling 22, 440. 73 block well fence constructed-39 and 34 by MOBSE and SUBEB respectively. MOBSE constructed 8 science laboratory blocks and renovated 14 block wall fence, while SUBEB constructed 30 solar- powered boreholes.
A wave of infrastructure provision and upgrade has raised the atmosphere of teaching and learning in the three state polytechnics at Ogwashi-Uku, Oghara and Ozoro, college of education, physical education and health technology at Agbor, Mosoghar and Ufuma respectively and Delta State University, Abraka and its campuses at Anwai, Oleh and Oghara. There has been an upgrade of the Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara, including supply and installation of incinerators.
As the architect of a new education sector in Delta State, these are landmark achievements by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa that were made possible by his focused energies in rebuilding the sector aggressively and tirelessly. It has opened a frontier of Prosperity for all Deltans that recaptures the glorious years of education as he matches on with confidence in realising his Stronger Delta agenda.